Carlos Cruchaga, who has worked since 2007 at the University of Washington, in Saint Louis, is a native of Barañáin, and is part of a team that works on the role of the immune system.
Carlos Cruchaga, a graduate and doctor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Navarra, has obtained, together with his team from the University of Washington in Saint Louis (USA), $ 1.05 million from the Creator’s Foundation from Facebook, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), to investigate the role of the immune system in Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientific director of the McDonnell Genome Institute, the Navarrese researcher has been working for 11 years in the United States in the interaction of several genes related to the immune system and, at the same time, associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
“In a recent study, we identified the main regulator of the extracellular levels of a gene, TREM2, whose genetic variants confer a high risk of developing the disease.This gene, in addition, is not related to the beta-amyloid protein, whose presence has been studied for decades in relation to the development of pathology, but with the response of our immune system, since it is expressed in microglia, which would be equivalent to the white blood cells of the brain, “explains the also professor of Psychiatry and Neurology in the North American university.
“The identification of the gene opened new avenues to knowledge about this disease, since it showed that there are processes involved in it beyond the beta-amyloid protein, and in our study, in addition, we identified another gene, called MS4A4A, which is part of the metabolic pathway of TREM2, “Cruchaga adds. This protein also abounds in microglia and, therefore, suggests to experts that it would be involved in the processes of inflammation, so that the relationship between the immune system and the development of Alzheimer’s disease would be demonstrated.
The research group of Carlos Cruchaga is made up of researchers from different fields, experts in bioinformatics, neurologists, etc.: “Our team now plans to use new high-performance techniques of genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics, together with inducible stem cells and clinical data, to elucidate the mechanism by which the two genes we have discovered interact, and how that interaction modulates the brain’s immune system and modifies it, generating a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, “Cruchaga says.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, established by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscillia Chan, has dedicated $ 9 million to fund research projects aimed at identifying new therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases through collaboration among clinicians, engineers, computational biologists, geneticists and molecular biologists.
Carlos Cruchaga, a native of Barañáin, did his doctoral thesis in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Navarra; Subsequently, he made a postdoctoral stay at the Neurogenetics Laboratory of the University of Navarra, where he investigated the genetic causes of neurodegenerative diseases, under the direction of Dr. Pau Pastor. Since 2007, he is a researcher and professor at the University of Washington, in St. Louis (USA).